Weddings, Elections, Swastikas and Bird Flips: 50 Defining Musical Images of 2012

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Weddings, Elections, Swastikas and Bird Flips: 50 Defining Musical Images of 2012

Nobody buries time capsules anymore—they just upload a folder of photos somewhere and hope that the internet is still around a couple generations or two from now. (Burying stuff is hard work anyway, and there's never a good capsule store around when you need one.) With that in mind, here's our version of a 2012 photo capsule, 50 images so instantly familiar that they need little to no explanation as to why 2012 just wouldn't have been 2012 had they not been so photographically captured. Whenever you're feeling bummed about the future, flip through these pics with our Year-End Spotify Playlist going in the background, and experience the wonder of the final year of the Mayan calendar all over again. (And if the two Taylor Swift-related pics weren't enough, we got you covered there, too.)
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2 Chainz and Chris Brown

2 Chainz with Aqua Breezy at the MTV Video Music Awards.
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A$AP Rocky and Rihanna

"You sure you're cool with me...?" "For the last time, yes. And really GRAB the damn thing, will you? Do you want to be a trending topic or not?"
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Adam Yauch

R.I.P. MCA. We're still slamming our heads with a sneaker in tribute.
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Adele

The big winner at the 2012 Grammys tends to her flock.
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Avicii

Just DJing from a bust of a gigantic head, no big deal. How do you play music for your friends?
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Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger

2012: The year "Chavril" became a thing.
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Beyonce

Take that, Mitches.
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Beyonce and Blue Ivy Carter

One day, little Blue Ivy, everything that the light touches will be yours...
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Britney Spears & Demi Lovato

It's all smiles amidst the X Factor cast until the first boy-band-related disagreement.
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Carly Rae Jepsen

Save that phone number for the next hott (and hopefully heterosexual) neighbor guy, Carly Rae.
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Cee Lo Green

The breakout star of Season Two of The Voice was not any of the judges, but Cee Lo's feline companion Purrfect the Cat, who still has over 63,000 Twitter followers.
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Chris Brown

It's Rihanna.
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David Guetta and Usher

When Guetta and Usher take over / YEAHHHHHHHH
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Drake

Mazel Tov, Drizzy, but what's taking you so long with our damn thank you note?
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Ellie Goulding and Skrillex

The first power couple of EDM won't be making it to 2013, sadly.
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Flo Rida and Carly Rae Jepsen

Semi-anonymous pop stars gotta stick together.
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Frank Ocean

The big 2012 revelation that also gave us '90s Mac flashbacks.
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fun.

Don't pretend like there's actually a guitar line to be playing in "We Are Young," Jack Antonoff. Even in slow motion.
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G.O.O.D. Music

It is the weeping and the moaning and the inhabiting of parking lots.
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Gotye and Kimbra

Gotye didn't have a lot of reason to make the Gotye Face in 2012.
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Jay-Z

The Jiggaman, currently counting the days until Brook Lopez's return to the starting lineup.
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John Mayer and Katy Perry

How did John and Katy not notice the paparazzo hanging on their windshield? Are they just used to it?
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Justin Bieber

Still creepy.
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Justin Bieber & Selena Gomez

No more Phish concerts for Justin and Selena :<
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Justin Timberlake

Jessica Biel makes her new hubby feel so springy sprung.
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Kanye West

In 2013, put the pants back on before you leave the car, Kanye.
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Kesha

Nobody sneers quite like K-Money in 2012.
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Lana Del Rey

About time for a triumphant return visit to "SNL" for Lana Del Rey, we'd say.
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Lil Wayne

Weezy always knew that Barry Zito was gonna turn it around for San Francisco one of these days.
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Ludacris

Luda gets into the Olympic spirit with some swimmer bros. #Jeah.
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M.I.A.

Take that, Giants and/or Patriots fans!
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Madonna

Pop, politics and swastikas: Rarely, if ever, a good mixture.
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Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj

Ryan Seacrest: "How do I always end up in the middle of these things?"
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Maroon 5

Adam Levine had to actually travel back in time to find the payphone to make his band's song appear plausible.
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Miley Cyrus

2012: The year Miley Cyrus became Anna from The O.C.
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Nicki Minaj

"You mad, 'coz I'm at the Grammys with the Vatican." We ain't mad, Nicki, honest.
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One Direction

Crazy Directioners prove that your parents were right: Boy bands are the devil's music.
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Paris Hilton

Very generous of Paris to provide EDM its obvious Spinal Tap moment. (Every genre needs one.)
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Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez

Better luck next time, Jessica.
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Pitbull

Come back to Alaska anytime, Pit.
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Psy

Los Del Rio probably never got on Ellen. (Possibly because the show didn't exist yet, but still.)
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Pussy Riot

2012: The year even your grandmother knew who Pussy Riot were.
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Randy Travis

Randy Travis: Definitely About That Life.
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Rick Ross

How many words is a picture worth, again?
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Rihanna

Let she who is without sin be the first to refuse apology.
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Swedish House Mafia

New rule: You have to exist as an entity for longer than three-or-so years to play a "Farewell Tour."
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Taylor Swift

"Hey, you guys think we'll get to be in Taylor's next video too?"
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Taylor Swift

You'll always be her first love, Conor. Well, maybe not.
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Waka Flocka Flame

WAKA!
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Wyclef Jean

If 2012 gave us nothing else, it gave us shirtless, oiled-up Wyclef on a motorbike. #Dayenu.
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